We pride ourselves on our open-mindedness, but when AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan took advantage of the bye week between the end of the home-and-away season and the first round of finals, our minds sprung closed like the steel traps they are.
Our prejudice is purely self-centred and mainly a reaction to the boredom we endured weekend past, as there was nothing to slake our footy craving other than eight NRL games and several thousand soccer fixtures.
The players and the clubs probably enjoy the bye, first introduced in 2016.
The intent was to curb the practice of finals teams with nothing on the line from playing walk-through dead rubbers in the final week of the home-and-away season out of a desire to rest key players ahead of finals.
The actual outcome, in the view of some, was that the clubs could still rest players for final round games, and then have an additional week to attend to the dings and niggles of a 22-game regular fixture.
McLachlan did have the figures on his side when he recently said, “Since we’ve been having it we’ve had the highest-attended final series ever, we’ve had the highest-rating final series ever.We can play on Thursday night, it gives us flexibility which means we have greater equity through the finals series.”
Solid points, even if counter to our desire.
McLachlan may have been more on target when he mentioned that a week with no footy makes the consumers more eager to consume when the finals begin.
It would be interesting to see if the bookies report larger turnover, but it would seem simply obvious that punters, given an extra week to consider the options and the exotics, would naturally invest in markets that might otherwise have been ignored.
McLachlan has not entirely persuaded us, but we do have to mention that the league has done a much better job this year by booking relevant entertainers, rather than has-beens, such as last year’s Black Eyed Peas, an outfit that ceased to be relevant shortly after the dawn of the 21st century.
The AFL has engaged alternative-pop sensation and rising Aussie artist Tones and I.
Hard to say how Melbourners will react to her, but she is originally from Victoria and the younger set at The G will possibly be supportive.